Cisco, IBM strengthening their IP ties

Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp. on Tuesday announced that they will integrate a number of their respective products in an effort to simplify the deployment of cutting-edge networking technologies in the enterprise.

The announcement is a key plank in the efforts of both firms to tap into the growing market for Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications, such as voice over IP (VoIP), which allows voice traffic to flow over formerly data-only network cables.

Cisco has a large stable of IP-based products that will now be integrated with familiar IBM platforms. Some of the primary examples include: Cisco’s Unity, an application that allows for the accessing of messages over various platforms, to be integrated with the Lotus Domino groupware platform; IBM’s Information Management database software being injected into Cisco’s CallManager call processing software; support for CallManager on IBM’s eServer xSeries, x306 and x345 servers; and closer ties between CallManager and IBM’s Tivoli systems management offering.

Brantz Myers, national manager, Enterprise Marketing for Cisco Systems Canada, said network managers’ tasks just got that much easier with the establishment of closer ties to Tivoli.

“Technically speaking, CallManager has some management tools built into it, but the big strength that Tivoli brings to the table is the enterprise scalability that we didn’t have. You can deploy CallManagers on their own and run quite a collection of them with the tools that Cisco had,” he said, but for someone who’s doing a large deployment, the process will now be much easier.

Myers also touted the value that tighter links with IBM’s Global Services division will bring to Cisco’s efforts to spread the IP word.

“The Day Zero and Day One, i.e. presales and the initial (equipment) install, is very important, but I think one of the areas where we’re going to see improvements on is the…ongoing operational support that IBM can bring to the table,” he said.

The links will also help Cisco make further inroads into vertical markets, areas where IBM’s services expertise runs deep, according to Myers.

“(IBM) can deliver deep value to a long list of vertical markets, such as health care and retail and e-government and financial services, where they’ve got people who can deliver the specific applications that help those businesses be productive and make competitive leaps where others haven’t deployed those sorts of services.”

John Ostrander, vice-president of IBM Global Services, echoed Myers’s thoughts.

“If you look at it from a retail perspective,…with this whole notion of voice over IP, the possibilities are endless: IP phones to track merchandise, check inventory or pricing, catalogue sales. The vision is that the IP phones will have much of, if not more, of the capabilities that a laptop provides today.”

IBM has been a user of Cisco IP technologies for a number of years. One of the firm’s first large-scale implementations anywhere in the world was at its Toronto software laboratory in 2001. Globally, IBM has deployed approximately 20,000 Cisco IP phones.

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